Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Message from StFX President: Second Term Grades at StFX University

April 1st, 2020

Dear StFX Students, 

Many of you have contacted the University, concerned about the remainder of the term, particularly your grades for second term. Our academic team, consisting of the Academic Vice-President & Provost, Dr. Tim Hynes, the Dean of Arts, Dr. Karen Brebner, Dean of Science, Dr. Dan Belliveau, Dean of Business, Dr. Todd Boyle, and the Dean of Education, Dr. Jeff Orr has been carefully deliberating, with the assistance of the Department Chairs and Program Coordinators. They are ensuring that all students are treated fairly in these very unusual circumstances. Please know that every student has different needs and challenges. We must have solutions to the academic problems created by the alteration of classes and exams that work for everyone. 

Consistent with the majority of universities across Canada, we are offering options for second term grades. Students may select the option for each course that works best: 

1. traditional numeric grading for each 3-credit, second term course

2. if choosing Pass/Fail, you must opt in

  • Pass/Fail will not be counted in GPA calculations
  • Pass grade counts towards degree completion
  • Must receive the minimum numerical grade for the program to earn a ‘Pass’
  • Must complete all course requirements, including final exam if applicable, to receive a ‘Pass’ 
  • Numeric grades are provided first before selecting Pass/Fail
  • If you are considering professional schools, please explore the impact of this decision on the program’s entrance requirements
  • Deadline for Pass/Fail opt in is 5:00 pm (ADT) Friday, May 15, 2020
  • For Engineering, Nursing, Human Nutrition – courses to be determined

3. Deadline to drop any second term, 3-credit course (excluding BEd) is:

  • 11:59 pm (ADT) April 6, 2020 
  • 11:59 pm (ADT) April 3, 2020 for Distance Nursing. 
  • There is no academic penalty for dropping a course; DC will be noted on transcripts. 
  • The deadline for dropping full-year, 6-credit courses has not been extended and these courses cannot be dropped. 

Through these options, we are aiming for maximum flexibility for the maximum number of students. 

Why are we not “freezing” grades?

Faculty members and students have made significant investments of time and effort in adapting to the last few weeks of the semester in these extraordinary circumstances. When in-person classes were suspended, we asked instructors to determine how best to continue to assess learning and to support student success during these unprecedented times. We asked Faculty members to consider many factors, including whether it is appropriate to reduce the number of assignments left in the course, whether to extend deadlines for completing coursework, whether to hold a final exam or, instead, provide an alternate method for final assessment, and whether to consider appropriate re-weighting of grades for courses.

Students, in turn, have been working diligently to complete their work, to attend classes, and to prepare for course completion. Instructors and members of the administration do not feel that this effort - on your part, or theirs - should be written off and, as mentioned above, have developed solutions providing various options related to grades for the term. Please note that this decision to continue with the second term also considered the fact that instructors are accommodating individual student needs in different circumstances, and that a one-size-fits-all option is not appropriate. For most courses, the percentage of work completed by the time face-to-face instruction was suspended was too low to be considered a fair assessment of student learning. To freeze grades would compromise the academic integrity of the learning experience. 

Grades will help students to assess their progress and this is helpful for employers and other post-graduate and professional programs of study that they may be considering. Keep in mind that virtually all universities have been forced to make accommodations in their own terms, courses, and academic policies due to the impact of COVID-19. The vast majority of universities in North America are taking an approach that is very consistent with our own.

We recognize that you attended StFX and took the courses that you did so that you could learn the course material, earn your credits, and advance towards the completion of your degree. We believe that, in all cases, the teaching and grading plans that your instructors have put in place are appropriate to help you achieve your course goals. We ask that you try your best to focus your energies on completing the final week in your courses and then turn your attention to your final assignments and assessments.   

As always, your instructors are here to support you in your academic journey in every way possible.  Your instructors are working diligently to provide you with appropriate and meaningful learning as you complete your semester. As is always the case, if you are experiencing challenges due to illnesses or family and/or other personal issues, we encourage you to reach out to your Dean to discuss potential accommodations. Please know that the Faculty members that you have come to know and respect during your time at StFX will do everything possible to help you overcome the challenges that you now face during this unprecedented situation in which we all find ourselves.

Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD

President & Vice-Chancellor

StFX University 

 

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